Tired of boardling last while flying coach? United has your cure, for nine bucks.
Note: This story was written earlier in March, but we opted to hold off a bit before publishing it so we wouldn’t look like insensitive clods in light of United’s recent, um, customer service issues. They seem to be coming around and hopefully this will make things even better — Eds.
As of March 2, 2018, passengers flying in anything other than basic economy with United Airlines can purchase “early boarding” for nine non-refundable bucks, a la American Airlines. The fee allows travelers to line up when the gate agent calls for boarding group two.
An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX. Southwest does not have any 787s.
A few weeks ago, my esteemed colleague JL Johnson penned a piece extolling the virtues of his favorite carrier, Southwest Airlines. He laid out nine reasons why Southwest was tops in his mind, and quite honestly I didn’t disagree with any of the facts he laid out on why the airline is so immensely popular with so many people.
However, with all the positives Southwest has under its belt, I personally can’t remember the last time I stepped foot on a Southwest 737… at least seven-to-eight years, I think. So if Southwest isn’t so bad, and I think it’s a perfectly fine airline, why have I clocked about 800,000 miles without a single Southwest flight?
First, let’s get one thing clear: This piece isn’t meant to be a hostile response to JL or his story, or even as a “Southwest is bad” take-down rant. Like I said, he has valid points, and Southwest is a fine airline, one that I even recommend others to fly. The goal of this piece is to give those who are wondering some insight into why someone might choose not to fly Southwest.
Alaska Airlines increases fees, but also increases benefits. Photo by David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com
Hearing that an airline is increasing fees doesn’t really mean much anymore, since it is common news. It has worked out well for airlines to increase their profits and although passengers complain, they continue to pay them.
Alaska Airlines is planning to increase their checked bag and change fees near the end of this year. The new change fee will go from $75 online and $100 over the phone to $125. Passengers who make their changes 60 or more days before departure will receive no extra fees.
Currently, a checked bag will cost $20, but that will be increased to $25. A bigger increase are additional bags which will go from $20 per bag to $25 to a second bag and then $75 per bag after that. However, with the increased fees, Alaska is sweetening their Baggage Service Guarantee.
Unique to Alaska Airlines, if your bag does not arrive at the luggage carousel with-in 20 minutes of your aircraft arriving to the gate, you will receive a reward of sorts. Either a $20 discount code for future Alaska Airlines flight or 2,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan bonus miles. As Alaska increases their fees, they will also increase the amount passengers will receive. The time still remains at 20 minutes, but if a bag does not make it in time, passengers will get either a $25 discount code or 2,500 Mileage Plan Miles.
Allegiant MD-80 and Spirit Airbus A319 hanging out in Las Vegas. Photo by Joe (JX).
Recently, I was able to sit down at my local NPR studio and talk with Tess Vigeland about airlines and their fees. Previously, I wrote a story on how it makes sense that airlines, like Allegiant and Spirit, charge fees and how they aren’t that evil. Not that many people are fans of my thoughts on fees, but it is important for people to realize that they have a choice in what airline that they fly (on the most part) and voting with your wallet is the only way that policies will change. If you play your cards right, ultra-l0w cost carriers can provide substantial savings.
As for now, people have been voting by flying on Allegiant and Spirit more (my previous story shows the numbers), so why would they want to change their policies?Anyhow, listen to the story above or read part of it on Market Place’s website.